I’m starting my wanderings around North Cornwall at the place I probably like the least. You may think that strange, but the reason for it is that not only is it the largest town here, but it is also the most popular with visitors.
Its main attraction has always been its superb beaches, and they come in all shapes and sizes.
They have always been popular for family holidays, but as the traditional English summer holiday has changed, then thanks to its position on the Atlantic coast, it has found a new lease of life with the surfing fraternity.
Its character has obviously been influenced by the people who it attracts, and as much as the town loves to see people enjoy their summers in Newquay, in recent years there’s been a tendency for people to enjoy it a bit too much, and it’s been necessary to curb some of the excesses that started to tarnish the town’s reputation as a family holiday resort.
Things were a bit different back in the 15th century when the headland next to the present day harbour gave shelter to the fishing community of Towan Bystra, which in Cornish means ‘Sand Dunes’ and ‘Blustery’.
From its name the village was obviously still in need of more protection and so a ‘New Quay’ was built.
Several new quays were built until it was able to handle not just fishing boats, but the export of iron ore, china clay and guano!
Today small fishing boats still use the harbour as well as pleasure craft but the export of guano has dried up and I’m not quite sure why.
To get the china clay to Newquay Harbour from the pits around St Austell a railway was built, which has been converted to what is now called the Atlantic Coast Line and connects the town with the main railway line at Par.
Most of the time the line is used by local passenger services, but during the summer inter-city trains are also used to help with the increased demand.
Many who travel down to Newquay come here for a good time and it’s become the nation’s unofficial surf capital, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t cater for anyone else.
It still caters for families, and people who enjoy the more leisurely things in life will find some great walks and quiet corners not far away. That said, it’s still my least favourite place in North Cornwall, but that says as much about me as it does about Newquay. Maybe if I was still twenty one….